The no-nonsense Grenadier wagon is marching into conventional 4WD territory.

Story Bruce McMahon

The all-new, British-designed Grenadier may bear passing resemblance to Land Rover’s old Defender 110, but there is precious little in common, aside from both being rough country warriors. The Grenadier was conceived to take the place of the rugged Rover when Land Rover changed the Defender’s course a tad.

The result is an old-school off-roader with a swag of modern touches. The low-range transfer case is mechanically engaged rather than electronically. Hit an off-road mode button and parking sensors, stop-start facility and seat belt monitors turn off. It has a body-on-frame construction and coil-sprung beam axles, with a minimum of microprocessors on board. There is no lane assist, the handbrake lever is manual and there are no vanity mirrors on sun visors.

The Grenadier is built for the dedicated, go-anywhere traveller and built to be worked. Power is BMW-sourced: the 8-speed transmission is from ZF and the transfer case is a bespoke unit. The instrument binnacle sits in the centre of the dashboard for better visibility.

The French-built, 4.8m long wagons, soon to be followed by dual-cab Quartermaster utes, have straight body lines, steel bumpers, short body overhangs and 264mm of ground clearance. There’s good room for up to 5 full-sized adults.

Barn-style rear doors are split 70:30, 2 driving lights are integrated into the grille, integrated winches are optional, there are 5-tonne recovery points, and a dual battery set-up, plus ancillary electronics, are safe from the elements under the back seat. (But the back seats do not fold completely flat in front of the 1000L cargo area.)

It is not a cheap vehicle and there are almost as many foibles as features, but the sum of the parts makes this an impressive debut by INEOS, a multi-faceted industrial concern headed by adventurer Jim Ratcliffe. The range starts at $109,000 for the 2-seater version, but most popular here to date is the diesel-engined, 5-seat Trailmaster, with a serious off-road pack, for $122,000. A mix and match of models and options means specific spring rates for each individual vehicle; most weigh around 2700kg.

Up in a comfortable, hose-out cabin are well-bolstered, manually operated Recaro seats, which offer a decent driving position with good visibility forward and to the sides. The direct rear view is obstructed by the spare wheel, tyre, ladder and rear door frames.

A central dash panel and 30cm touchscreen provide information, entertainment and navigation features. While electronics are kept to a minimum (only 34 processors) the suite of safety gear includes stability control and driver drowsiness awareness. A neat, distinctive touch is the overhead console with switches for functions from traction control to interior lights and auxiliaries.

The Grenadier has a range of options, starting with the choice of BMW-sourced 6-cylinder petrol or 6-cylinder diesel engines. The turbocharged petrol produces 210kW and 450Nm of torque; the twin-turbo diesel has 183kW and 550Nm of torque. Both are smooth and willing, and can shift the wagons to 100km/h in less than 10 seconds.

On a day crawling through the bush, the petrol Grenadier was returning around 20L/100km, with the diesel a more economical 15L/100km.

The Grenadiers, in particular Trailmaster and Fieldmaster editions, with front and rear differential locks, are most capable off-road machines in challenging terrain. Wheel travel is 535mm and crawl speed, with low range at 2.5:1, around 2km/h. One foible is the super slow and light hydraulic, electric-assisted steering. This is no issue out in the scrub, but it takes time to consider around town, where a driver may oversteer.

INEOS understands the need to establish the brand’s durability and reliability in faraway country off Australia’s highways. Of 29 agents, only 5 are in metropolitan areas. There is also a team of Flying Spanners for any remote problem.

The Grenadier is a charismatic addition to the 4WD ranks – not cheap and not without quirks – yet a tough machine with proper credentials for exploring the back country in comfort.

This story excerpt is from Issue #153

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2024